Cleburne baseball is the best team in Class 5A
Mansfield Legacy heads to the baseball playoffs this week as district champs. The Broncos got there by not pointing any fingers.
They finished the regular season at 20-5-1 and will take on Crowley in the Bi-district round tonight in Kennedale at 7 p.m.
Their two district losses – both by 2-1 decisions – could’ve easily been just the disruption and confidence-shaker to put the team into a tailspin and fall from the top of the standings.
“Close losses can tear down a team but they’ve accepted responsibility and they don’t point fingers,” said Legacy head coach Chris McMullen.
The losses to runner-up Waxahachie and Midlothian, in the first district series' of the season, were managed due to the level of experience and maturity that comes with a team of six returning starters.
But there was some trepidation after the Broncos had lost one of their starting pitchers, Damian Munoz, who went 6-0 last year.
Legacy had to reshuffle the deck and come up with a strong pitching contingent.
Ryan Hill was returning as a starting pitcher and junior Nathan Rooney stepped up to take the slack and ended up with an ERA of just 0.8.
Hill is one of three Broncos who have also jumped onto the diamond after playing for the football team.
Jalon Catalon and Payton Cathey also made the transition easily between the two sports and have brought the winning energy from their fall season.
It’s the ninth straight year the Broncos have made the postseason. Legacy reached the regional finals last season, which matched the furthest the program has ever been; it also made the regional finals in 2004.
But it’s just McMullen’s third year, so the momentum for the last nine years have been attributed to the foundation set by previous coach, David Waldon.
“He built a culture and set the expectations and a high bar for the work ethic,” McMullen said of Waldon. “I’m lucky to work in that situation and keep winning and we’ve built on the mentality that you can’t just walk out there to win. We’ve embraced the challenge starting in the fall and put the work in.”
Even going five rounds deep in the playoffs last year didn’t produce an overconfidence for the Broncos.
“There was never a point where I felt they started to get cocky or lose focus,” McMullen said. “It’s impressive the way they want to work every day.”
After the first playoff game at Crowley on Thursday, Legacy will host game two on Friday, with both games starting at 7 p.m. Game three, if needed, will be played at Everman on Saturday at noon.